In this issue:
General News    |    Featured Tool    |    College Planning    |    Who's Who    |    Financial Aid
Scholarships & Other Aid Opportunities    |    Financial Literacy    |    Student Loan Management    |    Calendar

General News

SPOILER ALERT! Sneak Peek at OCAP's 2012 Annual Conference

The Oklahoma College Assistance Program's (OCAP) annual conference, 10.11.12 – Counting on a Bright Future, is almost here! Take a peek at what you have to look forward to on Oct. 11:
Conference Flash drives

-A lovely location. The conference will be held at Moore-Norman Technology Center, South Penn Campus (external class) in Oklahoma City.

-A handy flash drive. Each conference packet will include a flash drive pre-loaded with the conference presentations.

-A wide selection of free materials. Participants will have access to OCAP and the State Regents' latest publications and tools.

-And much more!

We hope you're as excited as we are about this opportunity to exchange information and ideas with partners who share your vision of facilitating a college-going culture for Oklahoma families. We're also looking forward to learning from our keynote speaker, Greg Darnieder, the U.S. Department of Education's Senior Adviser to the Secretary on the College Access Initiatives, about college access efforts at the national level and how they complement our initiatives here in Oklahoma.

Space is limited; there are only a handful of slots left. This is your last chance to secure your seat, so register today (external class)!

Visit our website (external class) we for directions and to view the conference agenda. See you there!

Dealing with Difficult Challenging People

Raise your hand if you've ever had to deal with a difficult person. (Stop pointing at the person next to you!) OK, so we've all interacted with people who test our patience. Whether you're having difficulty dealing with a coworker, boss, student or borrower, these five tips can help you keep your cool.

Tip 1 – Avoid negative labels.

Labeling a person or situation can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. First, reframe the situation. If you assign someone a negative label, like "difficult," you're more likely to have negative feelings about that person. Instead, frame it as a challenge for yourself. For example, challenge yourself not to react when she pushes a button, or try to occasionally pay him a compliment.

Tip 2 – Learn more about the other person.

Attempt to understand their perspective and who they are. Many people just want to be understood. Once you find out what "makes them tick," often, they're easier to work with.

Tip 3 – Take a break.

It's easy to get to a point where productivity stops when you're working with a challenging person. Step away from the situation and cool off. Some of the best breaks include deep breathing, stretching exercises at your desk, a short walk, or even coming back to the situation the next day. You'll be able to think more creatively and clearly when the dust settles.

Tip 4 – Figure out why you perceive this person to be so challenging.

Often the reason you find a person challenging is that you're misinterpreting their words or behaviors. Someone may correct your grammar and pronunciation, for example. You may think this is rude, but they may believe they're trying to help. Is it worth getting worked up about? Are you more sensitive than necessary about being corrected?

Tip 5 – Find the good in the situation or person.

It may take some searching, but there is something positive to be found in every person and situation. Take a step back and try to view this situation with fresh perspective. Maybe that challenging coworker is the person who always brings birthday treats, wipes out the microwave or finds the flaw in your project before it goes public.

Bottom line, wherever you go and whatever you do, you're bound to interact with someone who gets under your skin. Make it easier on yourself by committing to find common ground so you can work effectively with anyone in your path. Also, when looking for the good in others, it may help to consider whether or not you've been "challenging" lately!

Ready for Regional College Fairs

College fair season began in September, and it's still going strong. Regional college fairs are a huge success each year, as thousands of high school students are able to visit with representatives from Oklahoma colleges and universities and other institutions from across the country. Fairs for the northeast, southeast and southwest regions of our state will be held throughout October, and each presents an excellent opportunity for your students to explore their options, ask questions and set up college tours.

Visit (external class) to find a regional college fair near you. While you're there, download valuable materials from the Resources page (external class), including 'best practices' to help counselors prepare for fair days and tools to help students make the most of college fairs and campus visits.

Senate Passes Six-Month Spending Bill

The House of Representatives and Senate passed a 6-month spending bill (external class) to fund all federal discretionary programs through March 27, 2013. The bill includes a 0.6 percent increase, which allows the U.S. Department of Education to maintain the Pell maximum at $5,550, averts a government shutdown and pushes any further budget legislation until after the election. The bill conforms to The Budget Control Act of 2011 (external class), which left a surplus in the Pell Grant program for FY 2013.

After the election, lawmakers will be forced to address across-the-board cuts of approximately 8 percent to nonexempt discretionary programs mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 that are scheduled to take effect in January 2013. Pell grants would be exempt from these cuts for FY 2013.

Featured Tool

Your Money Matters Guide for High School Students

Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM) is proud to introduce our recently redesigned personal finance guide for high school students. This colorful, customized workbook takes a relevant, age-appropriate YMMapproach to topics like:

Whether you volunteer for an after school program, lead a community youth group, serve as a school counselor or teach in a K-12 setting, this guide will help you infuse financial literacy into your existing programs for high school students.

Free copies of OKMM's Your Money Matters guide are available for use in the classroom and community (quantities are limited). To place an order, learn more about this resource or learn about OKMM's personal finance guides for other age groups, contact us at 800.970.OKMM (toll-free) or

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Who's Who

Do You Know Hilary Winn?

Hilary WinnMeet Hilary Winn, program director for Citizens Caring for Children.

Tell us about Citizens Caring for Children. What role does the organization play in our communities and what services does it provide?

Citizens Caring for Children is a nonprofit organization serving the needs of children living in the foster care system in Oklahoma, Canadian, Cleveland, Grady, Logan, Lincoln, and Pottawatomie counties. The mission of Citizens Caring for Children is to break the cycle of abuse and neglect by addressing the material, emotional, and intellectual needs of the foster children we serve. Every child deserves the chance for a better life. We strive to achieve this mission by building self-esteem and developing character to give hope, change lives and create healthy futures through our five programs.

We just finished our Back to School program last month. We know how hard it is for children to focus on learning if they don't have their most basic needs met, like clothes to wear and school supplies to do the work. Through a partnership with Junior League of Oklahoma City, we provided new outfits, backpacks, school supplies, and books to more than 800 children. We were also able to provide new clothes and shoes through support from Inasmuch Foundation and Edmond Women's Club. As these children get to make very few choices of their own, the Back to School program pairs the children with a personal shopper so that the children can choose the perfect back to school outfit for themselves!

Our Resource Center is open year-round and, in addition to our Back to School program, children living in foster care can shop for two new outfits, shoes, pajamas, and toiletry items four times each year for each season. We serve our largest population of more than 3,700 children each year through this program.

Our Mentor Program focuses on making a lasting impact on the children we serve. We match children with a mentor based on gender, interests, and location. The mentor makes a yearlong commitment to the child, spending between 5-8 hours with them each month engaging in activities that help build self-esteem and focus on each child's specific needs. We are always recruiting male mentors, as there are a number of little boys that need a positive role model in their lives, and there are never quite enough male volunteers to match the need.

Shelter Birthday Parties are held once a month to celebrate the birthdays of children living in the shelter. Volunteers play games with the children, eat cake and hand out birthday presents and goodie bags. We are grateful for Chesapeake Energy's partnership with this program, as they help us arrange special guests and entertainment for the children. We have had Ruby the Redhawk, the Thunder Book Bus, and will soon have Rumble the Bison (the Thunder mascot) attend a party. These birthday celebrations are important because it helps ensure that a child's birthday is not forgotten despite the fact that they are waiting to be placed in an available foster home.

Finally, Santa Stop is a holiday program that allows us to fulfill the wishes of 800 children in the foster care system through collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and OK Foster Wishes. During this time, people "adopt" children and fulfill two of their Christmas wishes, essentially acting as the "elves" for the child to receive Christmas gifts. Gifts are then sorted, wrapped and placed under the child's tree.

What do you like most about your job?

I love seeing children smile and meeting so many wonderful people that are willing to step up and make a difference in the lives of foster care children. I believe our most lasting impact can be made through the Mentor Program. Children need positive, consistent people in their lives interacting with them and showing them that their future can be different from their past.

How can people engage to support this important work?

There are many short- or long-term volunteer opportunities. Volunteers can participate in the monthly Shelter Birthday Parties, weekly in the Resource Center, and as mentors. We welcome short-term volunteers to help with for our Back to School and Santa Stop events, and we also have a number of special events throughout the year that require volunteers, too. For example, our next event will be our fall Haunt and Harvest, Oct. 25. This event is a festival and carnival where children in foster care will be able to trick-or-treat, play games, snack, and explore a hay maze. This event is not only open to foster children, but their entire families, too! We will have three volunteer shifts, two for setting-up and one in the evening interacting with the children. Anyone interested in volunteering for a particular event or program can contact me at 405.753.4099 x104 or

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College Planning

National Training for Counselors and Mentors (NT4CM) Workshops

We've started planning our spring 2013 NT4CM workshops, and this year we're excited to offer workshops in Stillwater, Oklahoma City, and Ardmore. Plus, for those who aren't able to join us in person, we're planning two webinars! Spring is a great time to learn about FAFSA updates, Oklahoma's Promise, OKcollegestart and the transcript exchange system, and our NT4CM workshops will cover these topics and more.

We want the agenda for these workshops to reflect the programs, services and issues that matter most to counselors, and we welcome your input. If you'd like us to address specific issues important to you and your students, please contact Penny Gandy at, 800.247.0420 (toll free) or 405.234.4364. Look for dates and registration announcements later this fall.

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Financial Aid

Ask the Expert: What are the Benefits of Cohort Analysis?

OCAP offers a cohort analysis service as part of our ongoing default prevention efforts. By using cohort rate data supplied by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) via the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG), OCAP is able to identify the characteristics and trends of schools' borrowers who are categorized as "cohort default rate borrowers."

According to ED, the first step in default management planning is finding out why student borrowers are defaulting and determining any relevant patterns. OCAP's cohort analysis enables schools to identify default trends and groups of borrowers who are more likely to default, allowing each school to focus attention where it's most needed.

OCAP's Default Prevention team is ready and able to assist, and our cohort analysis tool is an excellent free resource for busy financial aid officers. For more information or to request a Default Prevention School Tool demonstration or cohort analysis consultation, contact Wayne Sparks, OCAP's Default Prevention Manager, at 405.234.4358, 800.247.0420 (toll-free) or

What's New on IFAP?

Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs)



Application Processing

Common Manual Update

The latest version of the Integrated Common Manual is available on the Common Manual website. (external class)   As always, if you have questions about the manual, contact our Policy, Compliance and Training department at 405.234.4432, 800.247.0420 (toll free) or

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Scholarships and Other Aid Opportunities

Graduation CapThe Elks National Foundation will award 500 scholarships in 2013 to qualified students as part of their Most Valuable Student Competition. Any high school senior who is a citizen of the United States is eligible to apply, and applicants don't need to be related to a member of the Elks. Applicants will be judged on scholarship, leadership and financial need.

The Most Valuable Student scholarship deadline is Dec. 7, 2012. More information and scholarship applications can be found at (external class).

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Financial Literacy

Planning Ahead for Holiday Travel and Shopping

According to many, the 'most wonderful time of the year' is just around the corner. Whether you're shopping for coworkers and friends or traveling home to see family, the holidays can become very stressful if you're not mindful of your money. Check out the following tips to be financially savvy and reduce financial stress this holiday season.

First, create an overall spending plan, or budget, before you begin holiday planning. A realistic budget will give you parameters and direction, helping you control your spending in the moment so you don't jeopardize your ability to handle your regular expenses. If you're planning to travel this holiday season, include a travel spending plan by itemizing anticipated expenses like food, entertainment, gas or plane tickets, hotels and car rentals. Include a contingency fund in your travel budget so you'll be prepared if you encounter an unexpected expense such as a flat tire or travel-restricting weather. For tips to create a spending plan, check out the Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM) self-paced budgeting learning module (external class) to find the right budgeting method for you.

Then, create a shopping plan. Similar to a spending plan, a shopping plan allows you to focus on what you need without splurging unnecessarily. The shopping plan should include the folks on your gift list, what you want to give each person, where to shop and how much you can afford to spend.

Research early and save big money. Seeking bargains now will allow you to comparison shop and find the best deals. Waiting until the last minute to shop or make travel arrangements can be a pricey risk; retailers often raise prices and the cost of travel increases later in the holiday season.

Look for hidden fees. Now more than ever, many services charge additional fees to cover costs. These costs can add up if you're traveling, purchasing gifts online, shipping gifts or making ATM cash withdrawals. Even your gift recipients could be charged restocking fees if they decide to return an item to the original retailer. Make sure you read the fine print and plan accordingly.

Don't forget to shop the after-Thanksgiving sales. Of course you've heard of "Black Friday," the largest U.S. sales holiday on the day after Thanksgiving, but have you heard of "Small Business Saturday" – a day promoting shopping at small businesses? What about "Cyber Monday?" These retail events give shoppers more options to find good deals without limiting shopping to only one day per year.

Consider alternatives. Would you rather give several less expensive gifts to many people, or pay full price for only a few gifts? If traveling, would you consider flying from a more distant airport if ticket prices are lower? The price difference may make a bit of extra travel worthwhile. Recognizing that you have options and doing the legwork required to utilize them can help you save money in the long run and avoid the headache of competing with others to find the best deal.

Take advantage of layaway. Back by popular demand, many retailers are bringing back layaway plans for shoppers who prefer to pay for their purchases incrementally. Keep in mind that many stores may charge a fee and/or include purchase date restrictions.

Next year, consider a holiday savings account. Many banks and credit unions offer their customers a chance to save money throughout the year to prepare for holiday season expenses with a short-term savings account. These "club" accounts allow the customer to manually deposit or transfer money from a standard checking or savings account; generally, the customer can't withdraw this money until a specific date near the holidays. Check with your financial institution to see if this service is available and, if so, review the eligibility requirements.

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Student Loan Management

Navigating the Student Loan Journey

CompassOn Oct. 8 we'll celebrate Columbus Day. For many students, going to and paying for college can seem as uncertain as exploring the uncharted waters that Christopher Columbus faced as he embarked on his journey from Spain to the "New World." Just like Columbus, students face a loan repayment journey with many pitfalls, both seen and unseen, that could prevent them from reaching their goals. While students must captain their own ships, we can help them understand their student loan obligations and learn debt management skills. As your students begin or continue their quest for a college degree, we offer the following lessons Columbus likely learned as he navigated new seas.

The King and Queen of Spain wanted Columbus to succeed in his journey; otherwise, they wouldn't have sponsored him. Likewise, lenders and servicers want student borrowers to succeed. While we all know that Columbus didn't accomplish his initial goal of reaching Asia - landing in the Americas instead - he did find success in his discoveries and firmly established his place in history. Keeping students focused on smart borrowing and successful loan repayment can help them discover a "New World," too – one that includes freedom from excessive student loan debt.


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